As devoted k.d. lang fans, it's no surprise that Dano Beck and Mike Moreno decided during their recent engagement to invite the singer to perform at their wedding, which is set for September in Portland, Ore. The two created a social media campaign to catch her attention.
"We have been k.d. fans for so many years, and she lives in Portland, so it only seemed right that we invite her!" Dano says. "We made posters that use her song titles and lyrics to ask her to come to the wedding, then we took photos [of family and friends] with the posters and tweeted them to her. We were sad to hear that k.d. can't make it, but we were so happy that she sent us such a sweet response."
Though the men now live in Portland, Dano and Mike both grew up in Florida. Dano, 32, is from Tallahassee and currently works in public health. Mike, 35, was raised in Lake Worth and is employed in marketing and program management.
They met in 2000 at a neighborhood coffee shop in Tallahassee where Dano used to read poetry. Mike shares, "That was the night I first met Dano and I would say it was love at first sight, but I really didn't know what true love was until I got to know Dano."
The two say a wedding was never really in the plans.
"For most of our relationship, I wasn't interested in marriage," Dano says. "I knew that Mike and I would continue to have a strong, loving relationship with or without a wedding. But as marriage equality advanced over the past couple of years, we started to ask ourselves whether we wanted to make a formal commitment and celebrate with all the people we love."
"I wasn't sure if we would ever get married, but I knew early on that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Dano," Mike confesses. "Dano and I are both fairly independent and enjoy the freedoms that come with not having to conform with what is deemed 'normal.' I have enjoyed waking up next to Dano each morning and knowing that nothing was keeping us in this relationship other than love -- not joint checking accounts, not children, not a house with a picket fence and not marriage -- just love."
"About a year ago, I started feeling like I wanted to celebrate and share the love that I have for Dano with my friends and family," Mike continues. "What better way to do that than to get married? So after 14 years together, I decided it was time to put a ring on it."
Mike proposed to Dano while the two were on vacation with their parents in Isola Bella, Italy. "The island has white peacocks and layers of gardens that look like an Italian wedding cake," Dano shares. "It was surreal. Once we reached the top of the gardens, Mike proposed. I was already overwhelmed by the gardens, so when Mike got down on one knee I was flooded with emotion. I think I only heard half of what he said."
Dano and Mark are planning to marry on the rooftop of Eastside Exchange in downtown Portland this fall, overlooking the Willamette River and city skyline.
"I came to see that marriage is more than a commitment to be together," Dano says. "It's a commitment to how we want to be together -- how we will help each other grow and how we will show each other love, even in times of conflict. It's an opportunity to reflect on what we want from ourselves and from each other as partners, then commit to that publicly."
The wedding date will mark their 15-year anniversary of being together.